Riffs - Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro, Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind

Here's a riff that Miyazaki fans will easily spot.  A shot from the ending of 1979's Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro, the Miyazaki Heroine being joyously greeted by her pet, is revisited again in Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, five years later.

This is a good riff because not only do both films share the same shot, they share the same actress - the great Sumi Shimamoto.  The passion and range of her performance as Nausicaa never ceases to amaze, shock and astound me.  I think Shimamoto's Clarisse, the imprisoned heroine in Castle of Cagliostro, has a hidden dimension, buried just beneath the surface.  She's clearly not a sexual object nor a MacGuffin to move the plot.  She has an extra...something.  You can sense that in her performance as the Heroine in the 1980 finale episode, Farewell, Beloved Lupin.  But it's really as Nausicaa where her emotional qualities explode.  She dominates everyone and everything around you.

I don't believe that either film is half as good without Sumi Shimamoto.  And none of the American actresses who have played her roles could fill her shoes.  I find that fascinating, because as an American, I never considered animation voice acting to be, well, real acting.  Nausicaa forced me to completely reexamine that belief when I first watched it a decade ago, on an ancient, beat-up bootleg fansub.  The picture was so worn out that I could barely make out anything.  But Shimamoto...she just bowled me over.  She's anime's answer to Falconetti.


GW said...

It seems that if you're a fan, it's a riff and if you don't like it, it's a cliche. You can see this happen in any animator's career, even with styles that look completely different. The same personality seems to come through visually, even if it's as big a leap as from 2D hand drawn animation to 3D computer animation.

You can see tendencies float in and out of mediums that best suit them on, all too often it seems, even through later generations. A trait from a cartoony hand drawn film from 1960 could go through a realistic hand drawn film in 1980 and back through to a cartoony computer animated tv series in 2014 in a barely changed form.

There's a queer sort of continuous similiarity allowed by constant change.

Anonymous said...

While I think Lohman does a respectable turn in the Disney dub, no one could ever fill Shimamoto's shoes as Nausicaa. She gives the character extra dimension with that blend of kindness and authority. I find it interesting how Shimamoto now feels embarrassed by her performance in Cagliostro, calling it "rough" and "untrained" in an interview, but I think that quality is perfect for the youthful and naive Clarisse.

More Ghibli Blog Posts To Discover